Pubdate: Wed, 29 Feb 2012
Source: Summit Daily News (CO)
Copyright: 2012 Associated Press
Bookmark: (Cannabis and Driving)


DENVER - The hazy debate over driving while high is back before 
Colorado lawmakers as a Senate committee voted Monday to endorse a 
proposal setting a scientific standard for determining whether 
drivers are impaired by marijuana.

The bill says drivers would be considered impaired if they test 
positive for 5 nanograms or more of THC, the psychoactive ingredient 
in marijuana, per milliliter of blood. There's disagreement over 
whether a blood THC test is a fair gauge of whether a driver is 
impaired, but a Senate panel voted 4-1 to forward the measure to the 
full chamber.

"The privilege of smoking marijuana should stop at the vehicle door," 
said the bill's sponsor, Republican Sen. Steve King, of Grand Junction.

Pot activists said they agree driving while high should remain 
illegal. But some vigorously object to blood testing as a measure of 
impairment. Because marijuana chemicals are stored in the body's fat, 
levels can build up over time in people who use pot often.

Scientists gave conflicting testimony Monday.

"Nobody in this audience wants to have drugged driving policies, 
(but) there is disagreement about per se limits in chronic users," 
said Dr. Paul Bregman, a Colorado physician who recommends marijuana.

However, lawmakers were swayed by conflicting testimony from Cindy 
Burbach, forensic toxicologist for the Colorado Department of Public 
Health and Environment. She told lawmakers that the agency is getting 
more requests from law enforcement for blood THC tests, from 8,600 
requests in 2009 to nearly 10,400 last year.

"Five nanograms is more than fair," Burbach told senators. She said 
the department used a different THC screening procedure before 2009, 
making comparisons before then impossible.
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